Bird Nostrils and Nares

What are bird nostrils and nares?

Bird nostrils and nares are nose holes, or openings, that enable a bird to breathe. 

There are two holes – one on each side of a bird’s beak.

The beaks of birds are different sizes and shapes – long or short, small or large, straight or curved, and wide or thin. Therefore, the nares are in different places for different species of birds. 

Blue-and-Yellow Macaw

Some birds – especially parrots – have nostrils at the top of the beak. 

Some birds – especially those with long beaks – have nostrils in the middle of the beak. 

Some birds have feathers on their beak which hide the nostrils. 

Blue Crane
European Herring Gull
Hawaiian Goose
White-Naped Crane
Kea Parrot
Red-Headed Vulture
Ural Owl

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


3 thoughts on “Bird Nostrils and Nares

  1. There is no such thing as a nare (although the word has sneaked through peer review occasionally). Nares is plural for nostrils, naris is singular for nostril (accent on the first syllable), because it’s Latin, not a standard “add -s or – es” plural. Please edit the article to fix the error. Educational writing ought to strive for accuracy.

  2. I like all the clear, close-up bird photos for comparing nares! I do wish you had one of a kiwi to show nares all the way down at the tip of the bill (they push their nostrils through the leaf litter to sniff out bugs). That would cover the entire range of nostril positions, although your Emu’s nares are pretty distal.

    One photo of some woodpecker species, to show lots of “hairs” (really feathers) covering the nares, with an explanation in the text of how the “hairs” block sawdust from going up their nose while they hammer holes into trees, would also cover more of the variety of nares, but it’s probably difficult to get a shot that clearly shows the nares through the “hairs.” I know you can’t cover everything in a summary, but this would fit right in where you mention feathers sometimes covering nares, as a special example.

    Oh, I should’ve said in my first comment, “nare” is only written in the third sentence, so it’s an easy fix. Above the Blue Crane photo, it should say, “Some birds have feathers on their beak which hide the nares,” not “hides,” to have subject-verb agreement, “feathers hide.” And it’s Kea Parrot, not Khea. I look forward to reading more of your articles!

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